Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on June 2 2016

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Strong Minded
  • Birthday 08/18/1960

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed last year, but knowing how badly that was going to go, I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. Funeral

    My sister died last week. The funeral service amounted to a church service. There were two preachers, one to do the obituary and the other to ostensibly talk about my sister. The only thing about her they said was that she had a lot of courage (stubbornly fighting MS for many years, doing things people told her she didn't need to try to do because she figured every step she didn't take, or stair she didn't climb, would hasten the day when she couldn't). They talked about how she went to church even when she didn't feel like it and how that was an "encouragement" to other people. They mostly talked about what you had to do to get to heaven. What they didn't do was go to the family and ask for our memories! They didn't tell what she was like as a child, as a teen, as a mother. They didn't say what she liked and didn't like, what she laughed at, what her endearing peculiarities were. It doesn't have to be that way. My father-in-law was a Christian minister and he always asked the family for personal stories. At my in-laws' funerals one of the grandkids got up and spoke on behalf of the grandchildren, relating their memories about what made their grandparents so special. These were "Church of Christ" funerals, too. Christians are tired of the sermons at funerals, too, so I think that's changing.
  2. "Christian homeschooling mother of 5?!?!

    Being in the South, you'd better keep homeschooling them! Despite evangelical fears, they're less likely to learn about evolution in public school than they are from you.
  3. (Sorry for the delay. I haven't been on the site in a while.) I appreciate your perspective. It seems to me that the civil rights movement of the 1960s did a lot of good, but it didn't finish the job. The awareness raised recently overall, it seems, has made people think about the problems that still exist and for many to push for a solution. If you think that BLM specifically is causing more harm than good, I don't have a reason to doubt you. I do hope that in general, due to the increased awareness, more good is being done than harm though, by whatever other vehicles are involved. Time will tell.
  4. I don't think so. I think the point of "Black Lives Matter" is that "black lives matter, too," because to most Americans black lives (and black deaths) are nothing more than statistics. I read somewhere (quite a while back) that they actually considered saying "black lives matter, too," but it seemed more effective the other way. A person who counters "all lives matter" doesn't get it. That's no counter, it's an agreement in principle. The principle is that all lives should matter, but to most people black lives really don't. Nobody would come out and say it, but the current situation in the U.S. is unacceptable, and most people aren't interested in doing anything about it. And I'm guilty, too... I haven't put my money where my mouth is in this regard (although I contribute monetarily to several other causes).
  5. Do they not see how stupid this sounds?

    When you don't know those people, they're "the world." Obviously their god isn't protecting people who are "of the world."
  6. The Prayer that Never Fails

    A woman I knew in high school in the 1970s, and who was ordained as a Methodist minister a few years ago, posted some photos on Facebook of a trip she took to Israel a few years ago. Along with the photos, she commented "The prayer that never fails, 'Thy will be done.'" I would call that "the ultimate salve for cognitive dissonance". In "the Lord's prayer" Jesus reputedly said "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven." James 4:13-16 says " 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. " In Mark 11 Jesus is said to have claimed that if a person has faith, they can tell a mountain to move and God will make it happen. In James, it is said that if you're sick and you call the elders to pray for you, you'll get well. These promises don't have caveats (except for a lack of faith in the first one). Ask for it, and as long as you have faith it will happen -- period! But when people add "if it's your will" (or, more likely the antiquated English phrase "if it be thy will"), they provide an "out." This "out" isn't for their god, but for themselves. If they add "if it be thy will" then when it doesn't happen, they don't have to wonder why their god didn't keep his promise. They can just say "I suppose it must not have been God's will." Between that and "God's ways are higher than man's ways" they give themselves a way to ignore the fact that the relationship between saying prayers and things actually happening is completely random. There's no positive correlation unless people are praying for things that are likely. There's no negative correlation unless they're praying for things that are unlikely. Saying "thy will be done" allows them to count the "hits" and ignore the "misses." The terms "Postdiction" and "Hindsight Bias" usually refer to the way psychics go back after the fact and "prove" their abilities by telling you about the things they got right, but it applies to prayer even better, because with prayer, the believer has been taught ahead of time that if what they are praying for doesn't happen, it's not because there's nobody listening -- it's because it just wasn't what their god thought best. You've no doubt heard the expression that some unfortunate person "can't win for losing." Well, people's gods can't lose for winning! Recent studies have shown that when people are shown statistics, they will often dig in their heels regarding their false beliefs. That being the case, how would you go about showing a Christian or other religious person that "thy will be done" is an evolutionary adaptation of their religion to keep itself replicating throughout the ages? It seems so obvious from the outside.
  7. I actually have an account there, but I haven't logged in in quite awhile. I think my user name is either "Two" or "MisterTwo". I'll have to change that to "Lerk".
  8. Article here in The Christian Chronicle. This makes me happy. One of my greatest regrets in life is allowing my children to go to Florida College, the only "Non-Institutional Church of Christ" affiliated college. (The rest are affiliated with the "Mainline" Churches of Christ.) There's a quote in the article from the director of admissions at "FC" (as it's known). It basically talks about how the percentage of students at the colleges and universities who are members of Churches of Christ is shrinking. Total attendance is shrinking somewhat, but the numbers of "Church of Christ kids" is shrinking dramatically so that they're actually a minority at some of the schools. Part of that is because Churches of Christ are shrinking in both number of congregations and in total members (yay!). That's not something I really ever thought would happen. In Churches of Christ a sort of pseudo logic is preached that makes people who grew up in the denomination think that, of course, this is the one true church! The CoC grew rapidly up until the 1950s. Then there was a split of sorts (mainline/non-institutional), and now they're shrinking for the same reasons that other denominations are shrinking. The insistence upon belief in Young Earth Creationism, the rules against divorce and remarriage, demand for total abstinence from alcohol, and just the fact that we have the internet, are responsible for the demise. Of course, the article doesn't talk about any of that. In fact one of the interviewees seems hopeful that some of the students in the colleges can be converted to Church of Christ Christianity the LORD. You can see hints of "one true church-ism" throughout. Even the title: "Christian Universities" clearly means "universities affiliated with Churches of Christ." Anyway, this article may be of special interest to you if you're an ex-Church-of-Christer.
  9. Genesis 3! Who knows how many times I'd read this in my life, but one morning in church the preacher read a couple of verses, and I read the whole chapter. It just hit me that there was no Satan there! I'd always thought of Satan as tempting Eve, but there's nothing in the context that allows that interpretation. I was an atheist within a month.
  10. The Wrath of God

    Ah, life in the closet! Fodder for blog posts! Sunday morning's sermon was called "Motivations for Holy Conduct." Sermons usually have 3 main points, and number three, which the most time was spent on, was "The Wrath of God." This was pretty ironic, because I spend my time during the sermon reading in the Nook app on my phone. Right now I'm reading "The God Delusion," and I'm in chapter 7, "The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist". Part of the chapter deals with the wrath of this supposed god. So while the preacher is droning on about how afraid we ought to be of going to Hell, and therefore motivated to do good, I'm reading a chapter that directly dismantles these arguments. The wrath of Yahweh presented in the Bible has him bringing about natural disasters, or instructing the Jewish army to perpetrate war crimes (killing all men, women, and children, except for virgins, whom they could take home and rape), or punishing the wrong people -- Abraham passes Sarah off as his sister instead of his wife (twice), and the kings who take her into their harems are punished, rather than Abraham, who told the lie because he was afraid they'd kill him to take her if they knew she was his wife. Yahweh also gets really upset when Israel or Judah starts to follow one of his brothers, such as Baal. He'll wipe out a bunch of people just because he's jealous. It even says his name is "Jealous!" Many modern theologians would protest that these stories are just metaphors for something. Of course, I'm in a fundamentalist church, so the preacher insists that these stories are real. Regardless, there's no moral lesson in these passages. The god depicted is capricious, unfair, and just plain evil. The Old Testament in no way depicts modern morality, even though fundamentalists portray the book as being 100% consistent from beginning to end. This god of the Old Testament was ruthless and evil, and if he were real, we certainly would be afraid of his wrath, and on pins and needles because we would never know what little thing we do in ignorance might piss him off. In the New Testament, we're supposedly forgiven because Jesus suffered in our place. The only thing is, "salvation" seems to be a sort-of light switch, constantly turning off and on. If I mess up, I'm headed for Hell until I repent. Not that anyone would directly say that, but it's implied in every sermon. I suppose the most ironic thing about this "motivator for being holy" is that it's entirely fear based. God, in this picture, is an abuser. He's irrationally angry and will send you to eternal punishment ("where the worm dieth not") for really minor infractions, and for things that are considered sinful for no logical reason. It isn't a "works salvation," but it is. You can't earn salvation, but you have to try. You can be a really good person, do all of the things Yahweh insists upon, and still go to Hell because, well, works don't really count -- thought crimes will get you. Your church has an organ! Sorry, you're going to Hell! Oh, you thought you were saved before your were baptized? Sorry, your obedience doesn't count... off to Hell for you, too! Illogical. But we aren't supposed to trust our own judgment, we're supposed to figure out what this inconsistent book is trying to tell us. In Ron Reagan's FFRF ad, he concludes by saying "Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in Hell." When I first heard that I wasn't sure about its effectiveness, because to Christians this would sound arrogant. But the truth is that there's no reason to be afraid of burning in Hell. There's no reason to fear the wrath of a mythological being. In my imaginary conversations with Christians, I would ask them if they were afraid that Zeus would strike them with lightning. Their answer, of course, would be "no." Why? "Because Zeus isn't real." But aren't you afraid that he'll strike you with lightning for saying he isn't real? "Well, no, because he can't, because he isn't real!" Exactly! Yahweh can't send me to Hell because he isn't real. He can't get mad at me for saying he isn't real, because he isn't real! If you aren't afraid of Greek gods, you shouldn't be afraid of Hebrew gods, either.
  11. #MeToo: Awareness Is Only A Beginning

    The awareness factor should be huge. Although there is some backlash -- people claiming it isn't really happening (especially the harassment) or claiming that some things don't count, the fact is that society is beginning to talk about it out loud, and that by itself should cause people who are becoming adults to refrain from instigating it because instead of seeing it being accepted (and therefore emulating it) they'll see it as being unacceptable. Peer pressure is shifting away from participation in sexual harassment and toward shame of perpetrators.
  12. Came Out Again

    We make the best decision we can based on the information we have. When trying to guess how our decisions are going to play out when it comes to other people's ideas and emotions, it's awfully hard to guess. It's working out pretty comfortably for me when people think I'm a "struggling" Christian. Perhaps some day I can leave it all behind. For now, when they ask me how I'm doing and I know they mean "spiritually" (even though that's not a real thing), I say "I'm okay." One person recently followed up with "really?" and I said "yeah, I'm good." I don't think she believed me, but it's the absolute truth! I'm actually great when it comes to "faith." I don't have one bit of it... they're the ones with the problems!
  13. Backsliding Atheists

    A backsliding Christian is one who goes to church but who sits near the back and leaves as soon as the service is over. They aren't really interested in that life anymore but they show up at church as an obligation. In that sense, there was a period when I didn't feel the need to frequent this site or to listen to atheist podcasts, so I suppose I back-slid there for awhile! But the Christian culture I live in is so relentless that I find myself needing some of this again.
  14. Are We Still Just Believers But With No God?

    I'm not broken, and I don't need fixing! I could use some improvements, of course, but that comes through paying attention and learning. For some reason the idea that I was broken never really got to me in the first place. I became a Christian because it's what I thought I was supposed to do, not because I felt any particular guilt.